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Phillip Hughes joins South Australia

Brydon Coverdale

June 28, 2012

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Phillip Hughes celebrates his century, Tasmania v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield Final, Hobart, 1st day, March 17, 2011
Phillip Hughes has played his last match for New South Wales © Getty Images
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Phillip Hughes has quit New South Wales and joined South Australia in the first major interstate move of the domestic contracting window. The signing of Hughes is a significant boost for the Redbacks, who did not win a Sheffield Shield match last summer and continued to rely heavily on their captain Michael Klinger for top-order runs.

It will also add to the changing nature of the New South Wales batting order, with the former captain Simon Katich and the veteran opener Phil Jaques having both retired from the Blues after last season. Last summer, New South Wales were bursting with quality openers, with Katich, Hughes, Jaques, David Warner, Shane Watson and Nic Maddinson all part of their squad.

But in 2012-13, they will be scratching around for a new opening combination, with Watson and Warner likely to spend most of the season on international duty and another potential opener, Usman Khawaja, also considering an interstate move. The Blues were one of the states most affected by the slashing of the number of national contracts as Hughes, Khawaja, Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz and Steven Smith all lost their Cricket Australia deals last week.

Hughes, 23, has decided a move to Adelaide will help him in his push to regain a place in Australia's Test side, after he was axed following the home series against New Zealand last season. Hughes was replaced by Ed Cowan in the national setup and while Cowan has shown promise, there could be an opening at the top of the order within the next year if he doesn't begin turning his starts into substantial scores.

"The next two years are the most critical in my cricket career and I'm not going to leave any stone unturned to make sure I put myself back into contention to play again for Australia," Hughes said. "Missing a Cricket Australia contract this year is not the end of the world. In fact, in lots of ways it's a new beginning."

Hughes burst on to the domestic scene in Australia at the age of 18, and in 38 first-class appearances for New South Wales he has scored 3360 runs at 52.50. He has also enjoyed a productive month with Worcestershire this year, having started the season with two one-day hundreds and continued with strong form in the Twenty20 competition.

"The [Worcestershire] organisation, their support of me and my ability to focus 100% on my game has been a real eye-opener and my form with the bat has obviously benefited from it," Hughes said. "That's what I expect the move to Adelaide to also do for me, and I can't wait to get there and settle in."

Hughes said he had enormous respect for his former Australia coach Tim Nielsen, who is now the head coach of the Emerging Redbacks programme, and the South Australia director of cricket Jamie Cox, who as a former national selector played a role in Hughes' emergence as an international batsman. Cox said the addition of Hughes was a major boost for the South Australia squad.

"It is fantastic for us to bring in someone of Phillip's quality, and it works hand in hand with the opportunity that he is also looking for," Cox said. "His record here at Adelaide Oval [two centuries and a fifty in three first-class games], playing against South Australia, is very good and we believe he will be a great asset for us at the top of the order. He is an extremely hard-working cricketer who wants to succeed at the highest level again, and we believe that his determination and focus will be a great example for our young cricketers."

The state associations have until the end of next week to finalise their contract lists for next summer, a process that was delayed by the protracted pay talks between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association. In other potential moves, Hauritz and Khawaja have both been linked with Queensland, while Western Australia confirmed they have approached the Tasmania wicketkeepers Tim Paine and Tom Triffitt.

The Warriors are searching for a gloveman to replace Luke Ronchi, who moved to New Zealand at the end of last summer. The Western Australia coach Lachie Stevens told the Age that Michael Johnson, who kept wicket in five Shield matches last summer, had not been offered a new contract.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by EddieGilbert on (July 1, 2012, 3:35 GMT)

Concur with Hammond, jonesy2 and Hyclass. There's just something special about Hughes that keeps gnawing at you. The guy knows how to score runs and will in international cricket in due time. And when he does we'll all wonder what he changed. He'll just go back to his pre Nielson technique which was pure genius.

Posted by hyclass on (June 30, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

@Hammond..Its early days at Worcester for Hughes,but in 4x20/20,4x List A and 1 x 1st Class match,he has 2 x 100s, 4 x 50's and 533 runs at 76. His last game 87* from 54 balls against Glamorgan included a 33 year old Simon Jones of '05 Ashes fame who took 3 for 29.Not the 4 x 190's of his pre '09 Ashes but far better.I hope that Hughes abandons the idea of attempting to play like Langer and returns to his more unorthodox game.The idea that technique is the panacea for all ills ignores the plethora of Test players that continue to flourish sans said text book while others perish at its altar.Chanderpaul,with a career Test average of 50 was easily the pre-eminent batsman in the last series v Aus.Excessive adherence to technique prevents a batsman from developing the capacity to adapt and respond to the variety of bowling styles and pitches that will be encountered.It also detracts from batsmen mentally imposing themselves on the ball and bowler which is the swiftest route to success.

Posted by hyclass on (June 30, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

@Hammond..I believe that many of us share your sentiments regarding Hughes.@drinks.break..I enjoyed most of what you've said with the caveat that were you to look at batsmen only re proportional representation,the disparity would be more evident for Victorians.In recent years,Rogers,D Hussey & Hodge might have formed a formidable top order.@Dashgar...another perspective on that NSW v WA game might be that the team included a who's who of then current & ex Test players who by national representation were the most exposed by extraordinary undermining inadequacies at CA identified by Argus.I wouldn't take it on face value when all are aware of the talent of that line-up.It's hard to refute the failings of NSW batsmen until you observe that it was a national epidemic that included all states & the national side.When viewed in panorama,the uniting philosophy is the unrecanted CA' lack of investment in traditional Shield & Tests' as publicly stated by Hayden while a CA Board member/employee

Posted by Dashgar on (June 30, 2012, 1:45 GMT)

@drinksbreak, I don't have the stats in front of me but it seems that the vast majority of young players eg U22, are from NSW. Recently there's been Hughes, Smith, Cummins, Hazelwood, Starc, Henriques, added to a couple slightly older like Warner, Khawaja and Copeland. I'm not sure any other state could reel off a list like that. And when those guys all play together they are a pretty poor state side, just look at the drubbing WA dished out to them last year.

Posted by redneck on (June 29, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

ok??? is there a spot for any born and bread south aussie left??? between berry's vic buddies he bough over with him, the nsw rejects and a south african rent-a-captain is there any spots still left???? welcome hughesy but come on saca pick a couple of performers from the grade comp! if were going to keep finishing last we might aswell do it with a few local boys in the team!!!

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 11:02 GMT)

Hughes should learn from the examples of Langer, Hayden and Martyn. They all had a false start to their careers, but then they spent several seasons in shield cricket, scored a bunch of runs and fixed their techniques, and then they came back.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (June 29, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

the only good thing coming out from hughes and khawaja moving interstate and katich and jaques retiring is that it will give job security to the most promising young opener in australian set-up:Nic Maddinson

Posted by Buckers410 on (June 29, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

Good on South Australia. Hughes will make a lot of runs for the Backs and now other states will have respect for SA's top order

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (June 28, 2012, 23:36 GMT)

Like most Aussie fans I was a big fan of Hughes but 2 dissapointing stints at International cricket against our old foes(England) was very dissapointing. The fact is that he will need at least 3-4 seasons at shield before he can be considered for Australia as the NZ series was very embarassing for Hughes.

Posted by jonesy2 on (June 28, 2012, 15:45 GMT)

there is no doubt he will become a great and i mean great test match opener for australia its got all the classic writing on the wall for that.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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